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Monster Track X

by Michael Green

The biggest controversy surrounding this year’s famous outlaw messenger race was that brunch somehow made it on the schedule. This caused quite a stir and got the Bikesnob all worked up, questioning the legitimacy of underground bike culture. It turned out that brunch was just a tongue in cheek way to get everybody together at Trackstar’s new food spot in Brooklyn, Boneshakers. Fear not, the world famous alleycat race has not gone all soft and yuppie like a meal served between breakfast and lunch. The original NYC alleycat race has maintained its integrity and continues to attract racers and urban riders from all over the planet. Ten years is an impressive milestone for something that started small as a way for couriers to blow off steam and has now become an international destination. The race happens in the cold chill of winter, one of the first events of the year and it has one distinct rule in a sport known for having none… No handbrakes allowed. This truly separates the latest fixed gear converts from the urban street racers who must possess the skills to handle a track bike in unpredictable NYC traffic and often with patches of ice and snow on the ground. Monster Track may not be for messengers only, but you have to know how to handle a bike and have the unique athletic ability that couriers gain when the streets of NYC are their office.

I have been covering this race since 2005. Monster Track 5 highlights included legendary NYC couriers such as Kevin “Squid” Bolger, Alfred Bobe Jr. and Filipe Robayo battling it out for supremacy and street cred—all coming in with harrowing tales of switching out bikes and skitching cabs across bridges. Famous videographer Lucas Brunelle caught great footage from his twin mounted helmet cams to provide some unique insight to these high-risk maneuvers.

In 2007 I made a short film called Track Kaiju (Monster) about two Japanese bike messengers who flew in from Tokyo to race in Monster Track. We spent the week with Sino and his buddy Hal as they prepared for the race. This was a fascinating window into the courier lifestyle, which has an unwritten policy of hospitality where there’s always an open couch and a good time to be had when traveling.

Things got dicey in 2008 when tragedy struck a few weeks before the race. Thirty-year old Matthew Manger-Lynch was struck and killed by an SUV during an alleycat series in Chicago. This unfortunate incident gave alleycat races some unwanted attention, spooked the community and brought up issues about who should be participating in these races. Should alleycats only be for messengers as